Former T.B. Scott Library director publishes first novel
Kathleen Gosz, Director of the T.B. Scott Free Library from 1975 to 1981 and Director of the Waukesha County Public Library System from 1981 to 1996, has written a novel about the Germany of her third great grandparents who immigrated to Wisconsin in 1861. The novel mirrors the lives of thousands of German farm families who left the land of their birth to find a better life.
Gosz, even after intensive searching, had never been able to find such a novel in a library or bookstore in the United States. Even non-fiction from that period of time revealed nothing about the farming customs and culture she needed. She was dismayed to discover that most German bookstores could not give her much help either.
After four trips to search for this elusive information in Germany, she learned that only locally published village histories had the kind of details she was looking for. As she made friends with people in her ancestors’ villages, especially authors or bookstore proprietors who could guide her, she struck pay dirt. Some people were willing to loan their books to her for the duration of her research visits or tell her how to purchase it.
Even the Mayor of the village of Zerf sold her a copy of the history of his small village – he had kept a few for displays when the book was nearly sold out and was willing to part with one of them. She found other material in the small, locally owned bookstores. Such books made the details in her novel, HOUSE OF JOHANN, an accurate reflection of the day-to-day lives of the people who lived in farming villages all over Germany.
When asked why she has chosen to write historical fiction rather than a footnoted history or biography, she says, “A historical novel will imprint a previously unknown place and time on my memory and the same is true for a great many historical fiction readers. A historical novel makes one want to then read histories and biographies about the time, place and events in more detail. I had done an extensive genealogy of my immigrant ancestors, now I wanted to bring those people to life, put soul into them. This is something fiction does best. Not only could I explain the conditions my ancestors lived in, but also how they felt about their lives and about each other.”
She hopes HOUSE OF JOHANN convinces people that a historical novel about ones ancestors is neither dull nor is it unreliable. HOUSE OF JOHANN will provide accurate genealogical information to descendants living now or 100 years from now. Also fiction can animate the difficult decisions of the pre-immigration years of the lower classes of German families who came to America, leaving everyone and everything they knew behind them.
“I believe the novel will be interesting enough so that even non-genealogists will want to keep turning the pages for the pleasure of the story,” she says.
HOUSE OF JOHANN is available online in both e-book and paperback format from Amazon and can be ordered through Barnes and Noble or any bookstore. https://www.amazon.com/Kathi-Gosz/e/B06XRQ3Y8M/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_0